October 4, 2019 / 3:05 PM / 4 months ago

Portugal PM's party holds strong lead before Sunday's election

Portugal's Prime Minister and Socialist Party (PS) candidate Antonio Costa meets supporters as part of the last day of campaigning ahead of Portugal's general election, at downtown Lisbon, Portugal October 4, 2019. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s ruling Socialists remained strong favorites to win Sunday’s election, gaining more parliament seats than four years ago but falling short of an outright majority, the last batch of opinion polls showed on Friday.

The main opposition Social Democrats (PSD) were around 10 percentage points behind according to the latest polls, a wider gap than in some other recent surveys.

Support for the center-left party of Prime Minister Antonio Costa ranged between 36.5% in a survey by Aximage pollster to 38.8% in a Eurosondagem poll. His minority government, backed in parliament by two hard-left parties, has presided over a period of solid economic growth and all but quashed the budget deficit.

Eurosondagem put the PSD at 25.5% of the vote, while it scored 26.8% in the Aximage poll, below PSD’s highest score of 30% recorded in a poll released on Wednesday.

Another survey by ICS/ISCTE pollsters put the Socialists at 38% of voting intentions and PSD at 28%.

With around 38%, the Socialists would only need the support of one other party, and with 39% could even ditch their far-left partners in favor of People-Animals-Nature (PAN) party.

Reporting by Catarina Demony and Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Janet Lawrence

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